It's commonly known that we should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day. But why 10,000 - and how can you meet this goal every single day?
Some believe the number came from a fitness craze in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in Japan. A company put out a device named a Manpo-Kei, which means '10,000 step meter'.
However, it was the American Heart Association (opens in new tab) that originally linked walking goals to good health, suggesting that 10,000 steps a day would decrease the risk of heart disease.
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The UK National Obesity Forum now says this is how much we should be walking in order to qualify as ‘moderately active’.
And with current government guidelines recommending that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, hitting your daily walking goal is an easy way to stay generally fit and healthy.
Whilst 10,000 steps might seem a lot, physical activity expert and Fitbit ambassador Professor Greg Whyte says this shouldn’t seem daunting. “Think about accumulating short bursts of steps throughout the day,” he suggests.
With that in mind, read on to discover our top tips for easily hitting your 10,000 steps-a-day target…
Be sure to move during your 9-5
Desk jobs can have us sat down for hours on end, whether that's at home or back in the office. Josie Crafts, a personal trainer and yoga teacher at Bodyism, recommends getting up at least once an hour to stretch your legs.
Even if you’re chained to your desk, little things can really help. Walk the long way round to the printer or the loo, or use one that’s further away or on another floor. And instead of emailing, take a stroll and speak to the person you need face to face.
Hit the aisles
Online shopping was great during lockdown (if you could get a slot), but now that it's safe to visit the supermarket again, head out and get walking down the aisles instead of ordering online. Mix up your shopping list so you’re not doing the quickest route around the store.
Set a walking alarm
More often than not, we simply forget about the need to walk 10,000 steps a day. Work, family, friends... We’ve always got a lot to think about, right? So set a few alarms on your phone each day to get up and stretch your legs. Alternatively, invest in an activity watch (we've picked the best fitness watch on the market right now) which will alert you when you've been sedentary for too long and remind you to walk around.
Adapt your commute
If and when you start commuting again, get off the bus or train a couple of stops before you normally do and walk, or park your car further away from the office. As Josie explains: 'Not only does it mean less time spent on public transport (a particular added bonus right now) but it could save you journey or parking money too.'
Walk and talk
‘Meet friends for a walk at the weekends. Grab a takeaway coffee and amble around your local park,’ says Josie. Or if you’re just chatting on the phone (whether for pleasure or dialling in to a work call), walk around as you talk. You could even offer to walk a friend’s dog to really ramp up the step count!
Eat al fresco, not al desko
‘Make the most of good weather - and, if you’re working from home, the chance to actually leave your and eat your lunch outside instead of sat at your desk, or choose a lunch spot that’s a 10-minute walk away,’ suggests Josie.
Walk up the stairs
We know, we know, you’ve heard it so many times – but think how many steps you miss out on every time you hop in the lift. And in the current Covid-19 climate, avoiding small spaces where you’re in close, confined quarters with other people is a definite plus. The same counts for the escalator – you’ll get from A to B a lot quicker if you walk up.
Lucy is a freelance journalist specializing in health, fitness and lifestyle. She was previously the Health and Fitness Editor across various women's magazines, including Woman&Home, Woman and Woman’s Own as well as Editor of Feel Good You. She has also previously written for titles including Now, Look, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Red and The Sun.
She lives and breathes all things fitness; working out every morning with a mix of running, weights, boxing and long walks. Lucy is a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios. Plus, she's pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to many classes of champagne and tequila on the rocks whilst out with her friends.